An Erotic Novel

How we lost the right to feel.

Go to the beach.

A Literary Love Affair


The Sceptre By Dorothy Jane Mills
Patrician Publications Distributed by Xlibris Corporation 
ISBN 0-7388-0160-57 (Hardcover) 0-7388-0160-7 (Softcover) 
458 pgs. 14 cm. x 21.3 cm 

Reviewed by Jules Siegel

Using the classic historical novel format, Dorothy Jane Mills ranges across the centuries in The Sceptre, a book that explores the possible influence of prehistoric events on the lives of characters in modern times.

Centered on the life of Katya Becker, a beautiful young Austrian country girl whose genius as an embroiderer leads her to fortune in the United States as a world-famous clothing designer, The Sceptre weaves the complex strands of ancient and modern Austria into a vivid and colorful literary tapestry. Like some extended work of needlepoint, the novel reduces whole lives into crisp outline panels filled in with handworked stitching that looks so simple and clear it disguises the sophistication of the overall design. Thus despite the miniaturist approach, the plot moves swiftly across its broad terrain. 

The plot of The Sceptre has it roots in the beginnings of European culture when Celtic peoples began arriving in what is now Austria, around 600 BC. Small details, such as spelling it Keltic (as it is correctly pronounced), reveal the author's masterly command of her material. She describes with equal confidence the social organization of predominantly matriarchal tribes and the fine points of recent history, such as the exact name brands preferred by upwardly mobile Austrian immigrants in New York between the world wars. 

Her historically accurate dramatization of the period when Austria was being undermined by the Nazis illuminates a crucial transition that has been largely ignored by historians caught up in Hitler's hideous tragedy to the exclusion of his real roots. 

Dorothy Jane Mills writes in an immaculately correct pictorial style that effortlessly translates set, setting and characters into cinematic tableaux. Although her plot depends upon what sometimes appear to be improbable twists and turns of chance rather than conventional narrative logic, closer inspection reveals hidden patterns, the roots of previous lives working out unfinished destinies in modern dress. 

Katya's sexual emergence is depicted with a combination of technical restraint and growing sensual force. Each phase is precisely tuned to what she knows and feels at the moment. She's romantically thrilled by the lovemaking of high born Hans August, but is unaware of the existence of the orgasm until a female friend awakens her in Paris. She then repeats the experience right away with a male companion with refreshingly honest and innocent directness. The author has a healthy way of writing about sex that leaves a good feeling along with the desire to read more of the same. 

The Sceptre is very entertaining and surprisingly funny. The deadpan humor with which Mills burlesques ridiculously pompous scientific interpretations of what the reader knows to be merely incidental ancient criminal behavior makes the laughter even louder. It's one of those books you pick up and then can't put down until you're finished and then you wish you had another few hundred pages to read. Fortunately, a sequel is in the works. Meanwhile, readers of all ages and many different personal preferences will avidly enjoy this meticulously researched and classically written novel that breaks many of the stale rules of modern plotting.

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